Mountain States

As Fracking Fight Fizzles in Colorado, Activists Say There is Always Next Campaign Season

Governor Jared Polis, Democratic leaders behind SB 181, Colorado Rising, and the oil and natural gas industry all agree that 2020 is not the year for a fracking fight in Colorado.

Nonetheless, Colorado’s “Keep It In The Ground” activist groups are promising to forge ahead with more anti-oil and natural gas ballot measures in 2021 and 2022.

These activists are apparently so intent on tearing down the very industry that powers the nation, they don’t care about the deadly COVID pandemic, historic economic turmoil, voters who have rejected energy bans, and elected officials and business leaders who are tired of these unproductive and expensive campaigns.

It all started when Gov. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) wrote in a Colorado Politics op-ed that he had struck a deal with industry and environmental groups to put an end to ballot measure fights for the next couple years. Remember, this is the same Polis that backed the 2014 fracking ballot measures.

“In conversations I’ve had with industry and environmental groups, both have committed to me a willingness to let Senate Bill 181 (SB181), the landmark oil and gas legislation enacted in 2019, work through the regulatory process. These groups have committed to withdraw current ballot measures filed for 2020 and have expressed a willingness to work together to prevent future ballot measures through 2022.”

Yet, almost immediately, several activist groups declared they weren’t part of that decision and said they aren’t ruling out more ballot measures in their never-ending campaign to destroy American-made energy.

The Colorado Sun reported that Colorado Rising, the activist group behind the failed Prop 112 in 2018, aren’t on board with Polis’ plan.

“Likewise, Joe Salazar, the executive director for Colorado Rising, an environmental organization opposed to drilling, said his group is not retreating. ‘I don’t know what he means by a truce,’ Salazar said. ‘We are keeping everything on the table — we are not saying yes, and we are not saying no.’”

Colorado Rising had planned another slate of ballot measures for 2020 before abandoning that effort due to COVID. That decision didn’t sit too well with some of the group’s top officials, who split off to form their own organization to carry on the fight. The newly formed fringe of the fringe group eventually also withdrew its initiatives, but have indicated that more is to come after stating that Polis didn’t include them in this plan.

“But Anne Lee Foster with the group Safe and Healthy Colorado and a sponsor of one of the initiatives said Polis didn’t talk to her. She said supporters ended their campaign for an initiative requiring 2,500-foot setbacks from wells because the Colorado Supreme Court threw out a measure allowing people to gather voters’ signatures by email or mail during the pandemic.

“‘No one talked to us’ about dropping the initiative, said Foster, who has criticized regulators for what she says are concessions to the industry. She said environmental and community groups are exploring the possibility of another initiative effort in 2022.”

Goodness. Talk about obvious. The only people excited for more ballot measures are the people sponsoring them.

It’s clear Polis doesn’t want to deal with them anymore – and he’s the guy who used to love ballot measures. Likewise, his top allies in the state legislature, including Speaker KC Becker – a fellow Democrat no less, is also done with this silliness, citing that the regulatory overhaul of SB 181 needs time to be implemented.

The industry is certainly fine with a truce on ballot measures. Oil and natural gas producers aren’t in the business of wasteful political campaigns, they’re in the business of responsibly developing American-made energy that keeps our economy churning. Especially since the COVID pandemic has severely depressed economic demand and the need for energy.

Meanwhile, voters in Colorado rejected the last anti-oil and natural gas ballot measure even as Democrats, who aren’t exactly the biggest fans of the industry, had sweeping success.

But here we are again with activists intent on more ballot measures that will cause more economic harm and more wasted time and effort when Colorado, the nation, and the world has much bigger problems to solve.

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